Car Safety Improves While Top Safety Picks Numbers Drop Off

The recent Institute for Highway Safety’s 2014 TOP SAFETY PICKS required a bit of translation. The big news seemed to be that 39 cars made the list, down dramatically from the 130 on the 2013 roster. And yet car safety made a huge leap forward in the past year as the IHS raised its crash test standards spurring more car-makers to make wider use of new generation collision avoidance and front crash protection technology.

Safety leaders like Mercedes-Benz and Volvo have been offering these systems since the mid-90s. And increasingly premium level BMW, Lexus, Infiniti and Acura models are bristling with the full panoply of driver assistance features –- a glimpse into the future of autonomous vehicles.

From side-mirror blind spot warnings, lane departure alarms, sudden acceleration drops with speed adaptive cruise control when another car cuts into the pre-set forward range, driving in sync with all the signals can be a bit daunting.

Most significantly the cars newly named as TOP SAFETY PICKS — from the high-line Acura MDX and Infiniti Q50, to the modest Mazda3 and Chevrolet Spark minicar — shows that safety has no price or size barrier.

This George Polgar of GT Marketing for KYW News Radio.